The 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair was in London this weekend. The fair – a biannual event with editions in London and New York – was initiated in 2013, and this year showcased the work of over 130 contemporary artists from Africa and the diaspora.
This year, 1:54 also featured an exhibition of photography by the late, great Malick Sidibé, organised around three themes: ‘Au Fleuve Niger / Beside the Niger River’, featuring young people enjoying days out by the River Niger; ‘Thiep à Bamako’ featuring Bamako nightlife; and ‘Le Studio / The Studio’, featuring Sidibé‘s renowned studio portraits. This is Sidibé‘s first major solo exhibition in the UK, and it is unmissable. It runs at Somerset House, London until 15 January 2017, so there is still plenty of time to catch it.
The fair is a commercial event, and it is organised not by theme or region, but by its 40 exhibiting galleries drawn from Africa, Europe and the US. This means that there are no clear lines of curation running through. This can make it both overwhelming, in trying to navigate one’s way through the sheer heterogeneity of the art, and also freeing, in that one is left to put together one’s own ideas about the styles, themes and techniques represented.
Below, I present some completely subjective highlights from my own wander through the fair. Hover over the images to see the artists’ names.
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